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Volume 2, Issue 3                                    University of Houston

Hot campaign 2000 sensations McCain and Bradley aren't without their faults

R. Alex Whitlock

A year ago, Gov. George W. Bush was going to save the Republican party from the extremists that were then leading the party. Bush was different. All of his accomplishments were exaggerated and his personal past left to itself.

In 1996, Al Gore was played up as the obvious successor to President Clinton. However, they have both been thrown to the wayside in favor of two new media darlings: Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley.

It seems every time Bush's name hits the airwaves, there's some new asinine allegation or framed question.

Whether it's cocaine, a broken marital engagement in the '60s or a covenant on his real estate that dates back a century, Bush has replaced Bill Clinton as the most scrutinized man in America.

Since John McCain's name hasn't been attached to any scandals, and he is a Vietnam vet, he's trustworthy, right? Maybe, maybe not.

Ever heard of the Keating Five?

In Arizona, a man named Charles Keating ran a corrupt savings and loan that went under and ended up costing taxpayers several million dollars. Keating and McCain were tight.

McCain received large campaign donations, financial freebies and repeated trips to the Bahamas from Keating, whose interests were well-represented in Congress.

McCain later paid Keating back, after Keating was disgraced. But this matter bears more investigation than whether or not Bush did what every other young person was doing in the late '60s and '70s or whether he can pass a "gotcha journalism" pop quiz that most international journalists themselves can't answer.

You could say that none of McCain's alleged indiscretions are as juicy as Bush's, but that doesn't take into consideration allegations of marital infidelity that I will not dignify by explaining.

In fact, I could go into a number of other alleged indiscretions, but I don't have the space for it. Nonetheless, McCain is touted by the press as a paragon of ethics.

Today McCain is a champion of reform and an independent maverick. Never mind that every time he goes against his party, it is for something that will garner him publicity and favorable press coverage.

Before campaign finance reform became cool again, McCain voted against nearly every such measure in the late '80s. Maybe campaign financing stopped being fun when his friend went to jail. Perhaps it's more fun to attack it when a sympathetic press is watching.

On the Democratic side, Bill Bradley is being touted as the man of ideas. Maybe so, but Bradley has put out as many policy speeches as Bush, yet the latter is criticized and the former praised.

Al Gore, on the other hand, has speeches full of ideas on priorities, government programs and other initiatives to make the world a better place. What does he get for his trouble?

He's called boring and methodical. Gore then was trained by speech coaches to act more motivational. What happens when they see the new Al Gore?

They dismiss it as packaged and praise Bill Bradley for being his boring self. Who cares that Bill Bradley is just as boring on the stump as Al Gore used to be?

Both Bill Bradley and John McCain are losing, in double digits, to their respective opponents nationally. But because are both doing well in New Hampshire the press touts them as real threats. 

Winners in New Hampshire and Iowa do not typically fare well nationally. Ask Pat Buchanan and Phil Gramm.

I have nothing against either McCain or Bradley. I would really like to hear McCain respond to the charges levied against him, and I would really like to hear more of Bradley's ideas. 

The problem is, the press has to ask these tough questions. But they don't want to do that -- it would spoil their fun.

Of course, the winner of this horse race gets to be the next president of the United States. If it is someone who hasn't been run through the grinder, it won't be fun for anyone.
 

Whitlock, a junior information systems major, can be reached at pariah@tmbg.org.

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